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St. Michael's Hospital and Ryerson University expand partnership to create innovative training model

Graduate Psychology students offer assessments and therapy at new family practice unit

Toronto, October 7, 2011

In a partnership of two downtown Toronto institutions, 14 graduate clinical psychology students at Ryerson University are offering free mental health assessments and psychotherapy to some of the city’s neediest residents at the St. Michael’s Hospital new family practice unit at 80 Bond Street.

Unlike other training programs where students work in a mix of hospitals, community-based agencies and private clinics to gain practical experience, the hospital-based clinic setting has been integrated into Ryerson’s curriculum to create a true partnership between the clinical psychology training clinic and the university teaching hospital.

The St. Michael’s Family Health Team is one of Canada’s leaders in bringing together various healthcare professionals in one location to treat patients collaboratively and to share knowledge about new and innovative practices. By integrating psychology services into the primary care setting, a unique care and training environment has been created.

“This is an exciting opportunity to provide psychology students with high-calibre training in a real-life setting,” said Patricia Houston, vice president of education at the hospital. “And at the same time, they are providing a much-needed service for a disadvantaged patient population.”

Houston said this is also an innovative way to provide services in a tight economy. The program gives priority to patients who do not have insurance or a job, and will provide individual, group and family sessions.

“Ryerson’s partnership with St. Michael’s Hospital has opened the door to new possibilities for both institutions,” said Alan Shepard, Ryerson provost and vice president academic. “The interdisciplinary approach to health care at St. Michael’s Family Health Team has created a unique interprofessional education opportunity for our students and a rich urban health research platform for our faculty.”

More than 100 patients are expected to come to the Ryerson University Psychology Training Clinic weekly and students will see between six and eight patients each.

“The integrated interprofessional health care model at the Family Health Team is setting a new benchmark in family practice care,” said Shaun Burns, lead psychologist and clinical director of the Ryerson University Psychology Training Clinic. “Ryerson students have a wonderful opportunity to work on the vanguard of mental health care.”

St. Michael’s Hospital and Ryerson University have enjoyed a longstanding partnership. Ryerson students from a range of health and community service disciplines started coming to St. Michael’s Hospital for training in 1992. Nursing, nutrition and social work students received training there last year, and the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing has been involved in research at the hospital.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Ryerson University

Ryerson University is Canada's leader in innovative, career-oriented education and a university clearly on the move. With a mission to serve societal need, and a long-standing commitment to engaging its community, Ryerson offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Distinctly urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to 28,000 students, including 2,300 master's and PhD students, nearly 2,700 faculty and staff, and more than 140,000 alumni worldwide. Research at Ryerson is on a trajectory of success and growth: externally funded research has doubled in the past four years. The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education. For more information, visit

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